Hot!Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining

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kaszeta
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Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/15 14:40:29 (permalink)
wanderingjew
As far as Seattle, it can be done, if you want I can ask my friend Alan for his thoughts on a plausible route- in fact he would probably be interested in participating in a Seattle Death March.

Please do.  I'd love some ideas (that, and my Seattle explorations have primarily been either downtown or in Kirkland, so getting to see more would be great)
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kaszeta
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Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/15 14:56:48 (permalink)
As far as the Boston walk, the next stop was for dessert.  It's long been a tradition that the Death Marches have a late-morning "Cream Puff" stop.   In NYC, SF, and Chicago this was at Beard Papa Cream Puffs.
 
But Boston doesn't have a Beard Papa (and neither does Chicago any more, for that matter), so we instead turned it into a confection stop, stopped at the South End Buttery.   Alas, while South End sometimes has cream puffs (I had one three weeks prior), they didn't that day.
 
But I did score this most excellent Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcake:

 
 
 
#32
kaszeta
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Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/18 04:07:09 (permalink)
After that, we threaded through the South End to end up by the Reflecting Pond:


 
And then Fenway, where the Boston Beer Works ended up sucking in about half the group, never to be seen ever again.  ;)

 
But then we walked through part of Brookline and back into Allston to stop by the Super 88:

Super 88 is a regional chain of Asian grocery stores (now part of the larger Hong Kong Supermarket chain), and the Allston location opened to much fanfare in 2002. In addition to having good Asian produce and seafood section, it also had an onsite bakery and a really good selection of basic Chinese groceries. More importantly, however, was that the front of the store was made into the “88 Food Connection”, a small food court featuring half a dozen Asian food vendors, including Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Bubble Tea, and other wonderful spots. It’s a great little place to meet up with friends and grab a quick Asian treat, so we decided it was also a good stop on the March. And one of those vendors, Pho Viet’s, is one of the better places around Boston to grab Vietnamese food:

For a place that’s basically a stall in a larger food court, Pho Viet’s has one of more expansive menus I’ve seen, with everything from Pho to Cha Gio to several varieties of Banh Mi, all presented primarily with a pictorial menu (with a very rare exception to the “Asian places seem to have lousy food photography” rule) with numbers for us non-Vietnamese speakers to order. While I really do want to try some of their substantial dishes like my favorites Com Suom or Bun Cha Gio Bun Thit Nuong, this time I simply wanted a nice barbecue pork banh mi, and that’s what we ordered.


And we were pleasantly surprised. There’s usually not a huge amount of variation between one place’s banh mi and another, but this one was surprisingly well put together. A nice warm and crusty bun. A flavorful meat with both crispy and meaty notes coming through. Good, crispy, and tangy vegetables. And most importantly, a thin schmear of Asian-style mayo applied as a condiment and not a thick layer, protecting the crustiness of the bread and adding some nice moisture without being too fatty.
 
All in all, a great stop. I should mention that I’m always a bit hesitant coming here, since the years haven’t been all that kind to Super 88 itself. While highly anticipated when it opened, over the years the quality of the market started to sag. Starting around 2008, some of the live fish started to disappear, followed by the bakery, and some of the nicer products. Shortly after that, the market went from “cluttered but clean”, to “dingy and worn” in a shockingly fast period, and by 2009, most of the other Super 88s closed, and the remaining locations, including the Allston one, were bought by Hong Kong Supermarkets, a California-based chain. If you look by the main entrance, you can still see a now-tattered “Hong Kong Supermarket Coming Soon” banner, but don’t hold your breath. The conversion happened in 2009, but about the only real change was the name on the receipts, and a noticeable decline in overall quality, and a lot of neglect (heck, 4 years later, the building still is labeled with www.super88market.com in foot tall letters, but that web site is long defunct). Depending on my visits (which are primarily to locate obscure Chinese items I can’t get out at >H-Mart, which is now my Asian-grocery-of-choice, and opened right about the time Super 88 started to decline), Super 88 itself alternates between “worn and grungy” and “downright disgusting”). But the food court soldiers on, and is still reasonably decent despite the dilapidation of the associated market.
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pnwchef
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Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/19 11:05:18 (permalink)
wanderingjew

kaszeta

pnwchef
Seattle and Portland would be good walks..........Seattle. North and South, climbing a few of the hells you almost need a rope to pull you up...................Portland is  a great foodie town and a great food truck/cart  town............

Any thoughts on a Seattle Route? I've thought about it, but I'm having a hard time finding a reasonable route that is (a) 16-20 miles long, and (b) Not crazy hilly.   Seattle itself is fairly compact, in my experience.


As far as Seattle, it can be done, if you want I can ask my friend Alan for his thoughts on a plausible route- in fact he would probably be interested in participating in a Seattle Death March.

WJ & kaszeta......I think it coud be done, maybe starting East working West, remember hills have a path down also. It may even have a ferry ride involved, On a clear day, Seattle is a wonderful picturise city. The Hills in Seattle, coming down into Pioneer Square used to be used for sliding logs down the streets. This area was called " Skid Road" the streets used to have to be greased so the logs would slide easier down hill, this person who greased the road was called the "Grease Monkey". The area down and around Pioneer Square was was real close to the water, if you were using the crapper during high tide, if you flushed the Crapper it just may come back at you.....................pnwc
post edited by pnwchef - 2013/05/19 11:09:08
#34
kaszeta
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Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/28 14:10:07 (permalink)
After Super 88, we took a shortcut through Allston and through the southern part of Harvard's campus, eventually arriving at Harvard Square.  By this point, even though we had shed the slower walkers, much of the rest of the walkers were starting to slow.  Here's most of the crowd as we approached Harvard Square:
 

 
Originally, Harvard Square was supposed to be an ice cream break, either for Boston Tea Stop for Mochi Ice Cream (one of the walkers loves their blueberry mochi):

But being such a nice Saturday, they had run out of Mochi already (the above is from when I pre-walked the route).  The other option was JP Licks, but it was also rather crowded.  So Harvard Square ended up being primarily a (longer than intended) restroom break, and also where we met up with WJ and company.
 
And then we were off to our second ice cream stop: Toscanini's.  It is one of my favorite ice cream places (I particularly like their burnt caramel flavor) although I always find the "best ice cream in the world" banners they have all over the place to be a bit brash.  But it was a pleasant enough stop:

#35
kaszeta
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Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/06/14 15:05:30 (permalink)
After Toscanini's, we walked through MIT, across the Harvard Bridge (with the Smoots), and then along the waterfront until we got to Boston Common.  At that point, it was obvious that we weren't going to make it to Bunker Hill, so we called it at 21.7 miles, and several of us headed off to Quincy Market.
 
when it came to finding a place to take several of my fellow walkers on our “Death March”, most of whom hadn’t spent a lot of time in Boston, for me the choice of venue was fairly obvious: Durgin-Park, one of Boston’s venerable restaurants, serving up Boston schrod, seafood, and steaks since 1826. Named after Messrs Durgin and Park who were the original owners of the place, it’s located in Quincy Market at 340 Faneuil Hall (North Market), a location its been inhabiting since it opened, albeit with some (minor) renovations (the plumbing in the men’s room appears to be date from the late Victorian era).
 
One of the very notable things about Durgin-Park is that it’s one of those time capsule restaurants. Aside from a few (very few) tweaks to the menu, and obviously higher prices, the experience at Durgin-Park is almost exactly the same that I remember from my first visit in the late ’70s (and my visits in ’95, ’99, and ’01, for that matter), although the service doesn’t seem as surly as I recall from some of my previous visits (some of that is probably my getting used to the general surliness of Boston in general, to be honest). I’m sure that if you go back far enough in time you’d find a different experience, but the current Durgin-Park ambiance and menu harken back to at least the 1950s and the era of white-shirted servers and red-checked tablecloths. And that’s one of the reasons I like to go there, since it’s one of the oldest restaurants in the country, and one of the old respected seniors of Boston dining (along with nearby Jacob Wirth and the Union Oyster House, the latter of which goes back to the colonial era).
 
As I mentioned above, the menu at at Durgin-Park is pretty basic, with a variety of seafood, steaks, and other Yankee classics. If you find yourself craving an old-style pot roast, shepherd’s pie, plate of roast beef, or a breadcrumb-crusted Boston schrod, well, Durgin-Park is one of the places to go. They’ve also got a pretty good selection of fresh seafood, and more than a few steaks (one of the sights as you come in is the very large lump charcoal grill they use for most of their steaks), and prime rib (with sizes ranging from the 12 oz Boston Cut up to the 32 oz Durgin Cut, which comes out as a giant Flintstone-style slab o’ meat overhanging the plate). We ended up going pretty basic: I ended up with the Boston Cut prime rib and an extra order of baked beans, while Carol ordered prime rib and a plate of oysters to start.
 
The oysters were a great start to the meal, with half a dozen substantial oysters. Nothing fancy here, just a plate of half-shell oysters on ice served up with lemon, fresh-grated horseradish, and cocktail sauce, but quite the good dish of oysters. The oysters were fresh, nicely cleaned, and ready to eat, and a rather satisfying treat after a long day of hiking.

Next up were the baked beans. There was a time, not even that long ago, when pretty much every place within about a 75 mile radius of Boston had baked beans on the menu, often served up in a crock, and Durgin-Park still serves them up like that. I’ll have to admit, while they aren’t fancy dining, I rather like Boston-style baked beans, and the ones at Durgin-Park are definitely some of the better beans I’ve had, with rich molasses and salt pork notes, and obviously having been simmered long enough to be tender and yummy, but not yet falling apart.

Durgin-Park remains olde school when in comes to presentation as well. You order the prime rib, your plate comes, and it’s just a slab of prime rib on the plate. No garnish, just the meat. And I’m fine with that, since they do a rather good job with it. The prime rib came cooked perfectly medium rare, very juicy, and having a rather pleasantly spiced rub crust to it. Not an overly fatty cut, it was a great way to round out a day of walking, washing it down with a Durgin Ale (house beer that’s made by Harpoon).

And actually, when you come down to it, Durgin-Park is actually a good destination, since it’s one of the very few places out there still serving the old New England dessert stalwart: Indian Pudding (and doing a decent job of it). And it’s the only place I’ve found that serves coffee jello (also not sampled this time, while interesting, it’s not something I’m craving, especially after a full day of heavy eating). There are definitely more offbeat places, and finer dining to be had, but Durgin-Park earns a spot of respect for me for delivering a consistent experience, decade after decade.
 
#36
kaszeta
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Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/06/14 15:07:22 (permalink)
In any case, sorry this writeup took so long, but I got slammed with travel (as I write this, I'm returning from a trip to Los Angeles before heading back out to DC for the third time in a month).  Hope you enjoyed it, and thanks to the Boston-area roadfooders who joined us.
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ScreamingChicken
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Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/06/14 15:26:26 (permalink)
Durgin-Park looks like a perfect finish!  Would a restaurant opening today be able to grill over charcoal?  Or is Durgin-Park exempt from current regulations?
 
"I'll have the prime rib, a beer, and a tub of ice water for my feet, please."
#38
kaszeta
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Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2014/03/16 17:44:10 (permalink)
For those wondering about 2014, we're doing DC this year, on April 26th.  Drop me a line if you are interested in attending.
#39
IansMom
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Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2014/03/16 21:12:02 (permalink)
I'd be interested in the route... I'll be in DC 4/24-4/28
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kaszeta
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Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2014/03/16 23:27:06 (permalink)
Nominal route for DC is here:  Takoma Metro Station to Theodore Roosevelt Island.  23 miles, give or take.
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wanderingjew
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Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2014/03/17 08:29:23 (permalink)
Kaszeta
 we will be  in DC 3 weekends before the death march. We really wanted to join you but couldn't because we have a wedding to attend in Charlotte in May and didn't want to do two big trips too close together.
 
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